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Mexico 65, U.s. 40, United States 28, Us 21, Washington 15, Canada 12, America 7, Boston 7, Harriet 4, James Buchanan 4, Doris 4, Homelessness 4, Harriet Lane 4, China 4, Pennsylvania 4, United 3, Clinton Administration 3, Nasa 3, Virginia 3, Baltimore 3,
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  CSPAN    Politics Public Policy Today    News/Business.  

    April 16, 2013
    1:00 - 6:00am EDT  

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lane, some people thought she was a little stiff, maybe a little too formal. politicalhe situation, being what it was during those times, i think she needed to be. >> i'm going to explore this topic a little bit more, because in the first ladies we've learned about to date they were either enormously popular in washington or not. the locus was in washington, d.c. across country. this suggests the rise of media coverage. is that what was going on? >> previously first ladies were not mentioned in the press because it was not protocol to give the lady's name.
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so many remain unknown to this day. >> now they began featuring to read aboutople them to? >> she liked to get. she was a good dancer. she gave a lot of parties. she dressed well, and she had a lot of friends. >> did harriet lane play an instrument. which one? >> are believed she played the played- i believe she the piano. an appropriation from congress. he supplemented because they liked to entertain so much a very good >> i do not know if he got an appropriation. budget not for
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entertainment -- there was not a budget for entertainment during good >> region for entertainment. >> was he trying to bring together the north and south? >> absolutely. >> was he successful? >> i do not think anything was successful. asused it as effectively just about anybody else should. the white house glittered. >> the next as a caller from vancouver, washington. september my daughter and a friend and i visited the buchanan house. one thing we learned about was the endowment.
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my daughter was like, this has been resting for years. but was fun. it was obvious why harriet lane was interested in so many things. it was not clear why she had such an advocacy for native americans. i wonder if you could shed light on that. >> i do not think she showed any particular interest. i think there were some indians who came to the white house to visit, and i think they made a great impression, and she was interested in their education and medical well-being and and it was a proper
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thing for her to be interested in. no one is going to object to her , and there of children indians thought of her as a .reat white mother >> you talked about her being first lady. is that something you know about? >> that happened after she got out of the white house. a ship was named after her. it was coast guard. how did she get this honor given that two other first ladies have ever had anything named after them. she got in trouble for throwing
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of a party. is that true? >> how they named the shebaa after her, i do not know. -- the ship after her, i do not know. she invited some friends and who to the ship. he hollered at her, not for having a party, the ship was stolen property, -- was public property, and he felt she should not use public property. want her to except any kind of gives. accept any kind of
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gifts. >> we have a video. we will learn about her style. >> this is the home of james buchanan. they moved here. this is the place she would call home until the age of 36. special room. this is a place where harriet lane might serve tea to friends they spend where time together, saying, enjoy each other's company, very much like we would use a family room today. here we have the piano. this was probably purchased in the mid to late 1860's.
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have her musings both. this contains a number of pieces. we also have patriotic songs. one of her uncle's favorite things to do was to listen to his knees play those hymns. he was a very devout and she was very enthusiastic. when her uncle was chosen to the court of st. james, she was over the moon she might get to accompany him. now she made a great impression. she had manners and dignity, and the queen was impressed. they formed an interesting friendship that continued throughout their lives. is a gift to the queen
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gave harry it. it is a gold bracelet, and it has her name and the date of 1857 when she received the gift. behind it we have all lithographs of queen victoria and her husband. they are doing their time in the white house, and what is special is they actually held in the white house and were brought back here. timeet -- spent a lot of traveling with her uncle. one of the most interesting groups they have visited with the japanese delegation. -- was a delegation of. we see some of the things they brought, beautiful shoes, paper objects, origami.
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this is a dictionary, and she found these things very intriguing. aboutle we are learning diplomatic visits, is it true harriet lane hosted the future king edward vii at the white house? this is why the prince of wales was described as the great successes. >> i huge success. wales.the prince of yet he was the son of the reigning monarch. not had anyone, and he was the highest ranking foreign person who had come here. everyone knew queen victoria. he came here. actually, he went to canada, and you can and new queen victoria, and they said, as long as it --
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you can then new queen victoria, and they said, come on back. -- at beat him up let em what? >> they just did not play well at all. >> trouble in the first time he lost that anything. let's take a call from pennsylvania. caroline is there. .ou are on the air >> i would like to know how harriet is his niece. is it his brother's wife or his sister's daughter? >> his sister's daughter. it seems he took care of a lot
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of children. >> he did. he came from a very large family, and he did very well, and he managed to support maybe 15 or 16 different nieces and nephews. he had a lot of sisters. >> is there a story about why he is a bachelor? he did have a great love interested? >> they say when he was a young man, he was engaged to a woman, and it did not work out. engagement was broken, and she later died. some suspect she committed suicide, and the relationship
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between buchanan and his former intended family was very bad. . they would not let him come to the funeral. just how much she loved her, we will probably never know. >> you have anything to add to that story? .> not really my understanding is there was a misdemeanor. my understanding is the father discovered the reason for her being thrown out of college her about it.led guess what the
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secret is. he apparently did commit suicide. >> he devoted himself to politics and raising his nieces and nephews >> he had a short selling with julia tyler before she became mrs. tyler. i find it incredible. this was in one of the books i recently read. >> julia child was very popular. flings with a lot of different much older man. she seem to attract a lot of older men, but what went on was
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negative. became president. the next call is from pennsylvania. >> i remember hearing the story whosea departed buchanan fiancee jilted him, and it had something to do with her family's objections to him, so apparently he was so broken hearted there was never anyone else for him, and i remember hearing the story from a tour guide. >> here is a question. please tell the audience he was originally from pennsylvania. he moved as an adult. he is from lancaster. they did not wish to recognize his upbringing location.
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lancaster for his law practice? >> he chose it as his adult home. thes it true he would use place isn't entertaining spot for members of congress when they would come by? >> it was a lovely home. invited people to come, and it was a nice piece of property. >> lancaster is the site of our next call. >> i appreciate it. i just want to ask if you can elaborate on the wedding, where and anyplace interesting details. >> harry it did not get married until after leaving the white house? >> she was 35 years old or 36
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years old when she got married. buchanan was very happy about it. johnson.ed a man named some people say he was a lawyer. he may have been a lawyer first and then a banker. to like eacheem to other. they decided it was time to get married, and buchanan was very happy about it. he died a year and a half later, so he knew he was getting on in life, and they moved to baltimore. they lived in baltimore for years. failedcalled it a presidency. south carolina was about to secede. here is a look at america from the 1860's.
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there were 3.9 million slaves, 12.7% of the population. lane -- where she also a political adviser to the president now mine if so, it did not turn out so well. mean.depends what you was she a political adviser in the sense of abigail adams? no. i think she was in kigali madison range socially -- and dolly madison range, socially helpful. wellained her to listen and to observe. and to take note of what was going on in to form opinions,
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and she was quite quiet about her opinion, which is one reason she was popular. >> how have the duties and positions of balls from martha washington until this today? -- positions of golf -- evolved from martha washington until this day? >> i think the first three first were harder working, and my opinion is when we stopped being colonies and started being a country, they were growing to be more prominent.
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, andwere very prosperous .hey cater to them a lot more they did not have to work as hard. >> speaking of the civil war, here are some of the key events of the buchanan administration. 1858, the constitution, the pony express was established in 1860. the creation of the confederate states of america said the white house is dealing
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with enormous problems but not very effectively. how did the buchanan administration tried to approach using the white house and bringing the parties together? >> i will have to defer to you. >> they entertained a lot. withhad two dinners a week 40 people. >> how did they keep flights .rom breaking out harry get war another hat. she was very interested and would spend hours on the seating .lan she works very hard at that. of these senators
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and cabinet members and wheressman, so she knew to put them, so she worked hard at it. >> she attempt debates? this is chris perry did go ahead. >> during the time gary lane was in the house, can you tell us how many people were in the house and? how many staff were in the house? >> i do not know. had a housekeeper. >> when they first went to the white house, she wanted to take , and harry it did not want that.
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they brought a steward. they needed some staff there. not know how may members are actually live there. i know he had a couple of .ephews at the white house that was very common among the early presidents to bring in relatives. >> the people that work for them were paid. donna, welcome to the conversation. go ahead. >> i have a small world story. i taught first ladies in our elderhostel program, and when i got to james buchanan, a friend said, i got something to show you.
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she showed a ring and said, this belongs to my husband's family. ring.s the original >> does she have proof of it at -- does she have to approve of it? >> i hope you will discuss the tragic family, losing her husband and both sons and also the legacy. she did a lot of good. >> james buchanan believes the a burn -- loses the white house to abraham lincoln. what were the post white house years like for harriet? >> she went back with her uncle for about five years, and then she married henry johnson. baltimore, where he was a banker, and he was
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quite well to do. new sons, and unfortunately, harry it had 15 and decent years as mrs. johnson. both of the sons died young. i think they were 12 or 13. they were young boys. she is another who lost both of her children, and a year and a half after the boys died, her husband died. harriet is around 50, and she is a window on her own. widow on her own. she gets invited to the white house. no party is the party unless she
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is there, and she does a lot of good. >> this is charles. you are on the air. i am from pennsylvania. it is a suburb right across the state line, and it is named after the estate. it was originally an old canal town going from pittsburgh down eerie.ry, -- to i wonder if there are any other if named after the estate of the president. this is unusual. >> that is a good question.
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for aare going to return aboutvideo and learn more ar her post as white house years. aboutcan tell us a lot her by seeing all of the different tragedies that marked her life, beginning early with a loss of her parents, several young siblings, and the loss of her three siblings who also reached adulthood with her, followed by the death of her beloved uncle, james buchanan and then her husband ultimately. this would have held many beautiful trinkets. used forhem are intimate and sad occasions when she was grieving.
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this first one contains their hair of her mother, father, and three siblings. it is unique in that it is a little doll, and as it turns, there are little glass plates, and it is engraved with the date of their death. has littlehere pattern of hair from the young thees or nephews, and on back you can see more hair and the dates of their death. interesting locket in that it opens on two sides. seehe first side you can her sister, who died very
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prematurely as. who was traveling from england. see herther side we brother. end ofs taken near the his life, but he was a young man who died after president buchanan's inauguration. he served as secretary and died of dysentery that affected many people, so they stayed at a hotel in washington. this last piece harry it created to commemorate her uncle, and it has a beautiful cameo on front, and when you turn it around you can see a lock of hair. within the band are inscribed his last words uttered on an june 1, and it says, as thou wilt.
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this is a special piece. the words are hidden within the event. on the outside it appears to be an ordinary piece of jewelry. this is an image of her sons. is a memorial portrait because both boys died as young teenagers from rheumatic fever. both boys became ill and around the same time. states. in the united as you can see they are dressed in their best clothes and put in their best possessions to show them as they would have been in life with a memorial to remember them by. >> a caller asked us to make
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sure we talk about some issues she got involved in. she and her husband created one .f the first homes for children it is now part of the johns hopkins. now she was quite an art collector, and it became the foundation for art in washington d.c. it is still quite an influential school here in washington and very involved in the preservation of her uncle's memory to the james b. cannon memorial. we have a picture of that. you called it a failed presidency, but it is quite a memorial here in the burnie and park area of washington d.c. we are trying to understand what each of these lady's inflows on this country is and the roles they had and how important it was.
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where would you put harriet in the pantheon of first ladies in terms of her importance? >> second. >> i would put her right below -- if she were mrs. buchanan betead , i think she would second. >> i still think she should be second even if she is miss lane. everybody loved her. she brought some poetry to the role of first lady. after the previous three presidents as. , .
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she was a great girl. >> a lot to say thank you to our two guests on this program. remember, both of our guests have books available. i have a copy of it right here. thank you to both of you for being with us and thank you for being our audience this evening. [captioning performed by national captioning institute] [captions copyright national cable satellite corp. 2013]
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>> our series continues next week with a look at the life of mary todd lincoln. we will travel to her childhood home in kentucky and visit illinois and show you the summer cottage in washington d.c. the program will examine the relationship between mrs. lincoln and her husband. watch next monday, live at 9:00 p.m. eastern. our website has more about the first ladies, including a special section, welcome to the white house, produced by our partner, the white house
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historical association, which chronicles life at the mansion during the time of each of the first ladies. we are offering a special firston of the book, " ladies of the united states of america." it is now available for the discounted price of $12.95 plus shipping. >> c-span, graded by american's cable companies in 1979, but you as a public service by your television provider. >> president obama was briefed by phone monday about the boston marathon bombings. seated with the president in his white house photo is homeland's security adviser lisa and the
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white house chief of staff. after this photo was taken, the president also spoke briefly at the white house about these attacks. >> good afternoon, everybody. was briefed byi my homeland security team about the events in boston. we are continuing to monitor and respond to the situation as the situation unfolds. state and local authorities protect our people, increased security, and investigate what happened. american people will say prayer for the boston people tonight and we say our prayers for the families and victims in the wake of this senseless loss. we do not yet have all the answers but we do know multiple people have been wounded, some gravely, in the explosions of
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the boston marathon. i have spoken to the fbi director and they are mobilizing the appropriate resources to investigate and to respond. i have updated leaders of congress from both parties and we reaffirmed that there are no republicans or democrats. we are americans united in the concern for our fellow citizens. i have also spoken with the governor patrick and made it clear they have every single federal resource necessary to take care for the victims and families. i made clear to them all americans stand with the people of boston. firefighters, and first responders, as well as the national guard, responded heroically and continue to do so as we speak. it is a reminder so many americans serve and sacrifice on our behalf ever single day without regard for their own safety in dangerous and difficult circumstances.
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we salute all of those who insisted and responded so quickly and professionally to this tragedy. we still do not know who did this or why. people should not jump to conclusions before we have all the facts. but make no mistake, we will get to the bottom of this. .e will find out who did this we will find out why they did this. individuals, and the responsible groups, will feel the full weight of justice. today is a holiday in massachusetts. patriot's day. it is a day that celebrates the free and fiercely independent spirit that this great american city of boston has reflected from the earliest days of our nation. it is a day that draws the world to boston streets in a spirit of friendly competition. postern is a tough and resilient town. so are its people. i am confident they will pull
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together, take care of each other, and move forward as one proud city. as they do, the american people will be with them every single step of the way. you should anticipate that as we get more information, our teams will provide you briefings. we are still in the investigation stage at this point. -- to to read a late reiterate, we will hold them accountable. thank you very much. third prize winners. this looks that the impact on jobs and the economy.
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>> immigration. the average american wants to --
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>> grace wiseman second place winners in the student cam, petition. their message look set a legal immigration and the impact on jobs in the u.s. economy. >> immigration, allowing people to enter our borders can be beneficial to immigrants and the rest of the country. >> when it comes to immigration, it is not right versus left, republican vs. democrat issue. it is those who have power to influence policy. and the average american heart regardless of political affiliation does want to see immigration laws enforced. amnesty. chris immigration laws. take up the highest unemployment rate right now is the young people. -- >> the highest and a plummet right now is the young people. the problem is is the way we have done it, they do not pay tax. you have to pay tax. and the employer would pay the tax. a ford are did not pay because it will not be here -- foreigner does not pay because they will not be here long. but we did not have the employer pay either. if the employer hires you, you will have to pay 15 percent more. why would anyone hire american when you can hire foreigners and pay them 15% less? with high unemployment, is the sticking point for a lot of people. a lot of little things like that within our immigration system that should be tweaked
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and never are. >> having immigrants and america can be very valuable to our economy. >> immigrants create jobs, create businesses, pay taxes. even those that are of -- not documented, it will pay a wide range of taxes. >> your testimony was that immigration actually saved new york, stimulation of the economy. can you briefly describe how that worked? >> i cannot speak with authority on any place outside of the five boroughs of new york city. i can tell you we think we have roughly 500,000 undocumented. but they have a very low crime rate because they do not want to go near the ins. 75% pay taxes.
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there is withholding and no place to send the refund. social security will go six years earlier if he did not have the undocumented in this country. the undocumented, because the pace social security but do not get benefits. and-- they pay so security but did not get the benefits. >> some of the maybe do not have the language skills to get a higher-paying jobs. many of them are highly educated professionals, but there degrees may be from another country. >> maybe you could offer more visas to the immigrants who let's face it will probably be doing the jobs anyway. mayimproved legal status allow the recourse if they are abused. it stands to reason if your co- worker cannot be exploited, you
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are left to be exploited yourself. eventually americans may consider taking the jobs again. decrepit the most reasons is to give them better lives. >> corruption, drugs. [indiscernible] issues of domestic violence. [inaudible] [indiscernible] we're looking for a better life to provide our kids. education. [indiscernible] >> all countries can be negatively affected by having so many people leaving them. >> i did think some countries are leading some of their
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skilled workers. best and some of their brightest. but there is the other argument as well, a country like mexico has a lot of poverty and crime. they are seeing citizens that are very happy to push the problems north. the best people who understand the problem are fleeing. >> this is an immigrant country. based on immigration. that is the beauty of this country. you are exposed to different ethnic groups, languages, culture. that is the enrichment of this
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country. you do not see that in many of those countries. >> to me, that is the united states. anyone who wants to become american, that is the beauty of the american culture, we all come from somewhere else. even if we are native american, we have to adjust for the larger culture. anyone who wants to become an american can and will be accepted as an american. whether you change your name or not. that is the beauty of it. >> i went to washington, d.c., and could not imagine going back. belgium is a very small country. it is all the same. i cannot imagine going back. i wanted to stay here. >> there are major risks we as americans take by allowing immigrants into the country. one of the biggest concerns we have is the national security. >> we have workers that come in and work for the employer for one day.
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it then they disappear, because no one keeps track of them. no one does background. do you really trust the government telling you -- we have people walking across the border. we do not know anything about them and we are handing them driver's license and social security numbers. this is a huge in national security risk with all of that. >> immigration can be a good thing, but we will continue to pray bigger problems. immigration is an issue that needs to be tackled now. >> congratulations to all the winners in this year's student cam's competition. to see more winners go to c- span.org.
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on theext, a discussion relationship between mexico and the united states. we will hear further -- from the mask an investor to united states. mexican in passenger to the united states. to the united states. raul grientative jalva, then luke messer, and later, the executive director of the investigator project on emerson.m, stepheven at 7:00 a.m.rning eastern on c-span.
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mexican ambassador to the united states talks about trade. this is a 90 minute discussion. >> welcome, everybody. we will begin. thank you for coming. if i can ask all of your potato chip bags be discreet in the way you eat them and the up with it -- obligatory notice of tournament -- turning off the ringers on your mobile phones, but encouraging u.s. the same time to plead as much as you want under the hashtag we are using today. policye president of the institute. we have an extraordinary -- panel today. i am here just to welcome our
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remarkable gas, particularly the new ambassador from mexico to the united states, who has already become a good friend to many here in washington. and just to introduce what we do here. we are a small, independent think-tank. we have had a project here called the 21st century border initiative for three years now. we have been trying to tell a simple story to policy-makers in washington, which is that, because of an increase investment, better strategy, and greater cooperation between the united states and mexico, perhaps unprecedented, that our border is safer on the u.s. side. the immigration system is better. mexico itself is modernizing and growing to the point where mexico becomes the third largest trading partner, the second- largest in the world, and we now export twice as much to mexico as we do to china.
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the reality of what has happened to demographically, economically, and politically over the last few years is not something we felt we erratically -- adequately understood. we worked hard to bring these new understandings to many. i am heartened as we began what will be a spirited debate about immigration, our border, our relations with mexico, and it is a pity the president's trip to mexico city in a few weeks, we see a great change in the understanding of these issues. not among all of the policy- makers debating this today, but there is really a growing awareness about how things are different than they used to be. in keeping with that spirit, we are having a wonderful event today. i want to welcome and introduce our moderator today and our host, matthew cunningham, who is
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the chair of our policy initiative. he is well known to many of you who have been working on issues of u.s.-latin american relations and the former clinton administration official, a super thoughtful ally of ours edo is prodding us to get ahead of the debate here in washington. he is a dear friend and he will be taking it from here. nelson, welcome. >> it brings the great pleasure to welcome you all here to one of the most timely sessions we have been fortunate enough to put on over the years. andave been attracted to ndn have been closed for over a decade. it is at the intersection of where politics and policy really makes the most sense.
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no where have they been more so than our dealings with latin america and particularly mexico. are not just good policy but great politics. they have reached out to members at capitol hill on both sides, who are most thoughtful about the u.s. and mexico and our relations between the two this is one of the best programs ndn has put on in a good, long time. it is because of the quality of the panel we have, but also because of rigid because of the timeliness we have at the moment here not only do we have our president and the mexican on may 2, aeting lot less than three weeks, he and his staff are busy planning that trip right now.
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the president will meet there for the second time. in that in november when president elect came up here to washington to meet with president obama, shortly before his inaugural. it was a successful meeting. it is telling about the relationship between u.s. and mexico that the president is traveling to mexico in may to meet again with the president to discuss a broad range of issues. the second reason it is timely is because on the american side, we have not seen the policy environment the so conducive to dealing with the key issues between the u.s. and mexico. is hot andtion bill heavy, front and center. ginsburg indid espagnole. shows, toe sunday
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talk about immigration. the gang of eight is hard at work on that. guns, u.s.-mexico relations. i think the guns may come out not quite as favorable to mexico's longstanding positions as the immigration debate might. i would take a 14 two. we will be in good shape. the third is trade. states, nowunited japan, canada, are linked in the trans-pacific partnership talks. talks with many of our key trading allies across the pacific. many of us view it as a chance. into thebring nafta 21st century. much on thee very u.s. agenda. it shows great forward progress. welcome all of you to what promises to be a truly
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fascinating session. the second reason this will be terrific is because of our panelists. i will say little bit more about the ambassador of mexico. meissner, who i served with in the clinton administration. she is one of our great experts. ted. , weseries of speakers today will have first ambassador medina mora, then we will have a conversation including members of the audience. we have folks on the web able to
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send in questions, also. maybe someone in the room will ask the question. our first speaker is very excited. he has just arrived in washington. a is immediately planning presidential visit. that is fast work. he arrived here with a perfect background for dealing with u.s.-mexican relations. a longtime government servant on the mexico side, he participated years in and spent 10 one of mexico's leading private- sector companies. since then, he has held a series of government jobs that really speak of experience. secretary of public security.
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most recently, he was mexico's ambassador to the united kingdom. as importantly as all these other backgrounds, he has critical posts under the president and was fast to please take on a new role here in this administration. u.s.-ngs the full 362 mexico relations. let me turn the podium over to ambassador medina mora. thank you. [applause] >> thank you very much, really, for having me this afternoon. to think the national demographic for inviting me to make this presentation and hosting this important and timely event. rosenberg,y think doris meissner, and eduardo
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edward alden.caz change has been faster and more dramatic in the last 20 years. in that time span, we have witnessed exponential growth of mexicans in this country and a significant slowdown in 2010 according to the sector. in this presentation, i would like to share some thoughts about the recent affirmation of mexico, as its bilateral relationship with united states, i would place special emphasis. first, structural change in our country. second, north america, our shared space, the region of opportunity. third, the mexico-u.s. border.
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prosperity and competitiveness. four contribution of mexicans to this country. as a uniqued it window of opportunity conducted by fortunate coincidences. the united states and its people want this opportunity and that change has played a minor role. it might be the case the senate would see a bill this week. similarly, it is not serendipitous that mexico is not now doing much better. both economically and socially. we have made great strides in order to reach this end we have worked closely with the u.s.
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toelieve now is the time cash in the hard work. mexico is once again removed. what happens to the faculties across the country is quite different from what some might assume. mexico is on a sustained path of progress. working together every day to overcome them. the mainrst 127 days, political parties signed a wide- ranging political agreement. congress passed already major risk structural of forms.
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it is not a coincidence the washington post and the new york times, among others, have praised unless. not had a majority in congress since 1997. the mexican economy has expanded mexican have maintained growth since 2009. the gdp has increased from $7,979 in 2009, to 2146 in 2011. above 15,500. , almost four%, a toher rate, and is expected
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grow 3.5% in the year. this is measured by j.p. morgan. mexico is also taking care of its people. brookings institution has highlighted that 60% of the mexican -- [indiscernible] 2030, 80.5% of mexicans will be middle class. more inhas increased the early 1970's. all of these factors that have taken place review the
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immigration pressures of the past. academic think tanks estimate that net migration between mexico and the united states is close to zero. only 11%survey shows of mexicans say they would leave mexico if given the opportunity. a decline of about half from a 2007. 2007. over the last few years, our common border has increasingly become an area of prosperity. it is more dynamic and more secure than it has ever been.
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four in the united states and six in mexico, have a population of 92 minute -- 90 million people. much remains to be done. our progress can be objectively measured. the corporation is stronger than ever. for this new era of collaboration, i will share two examples with you. in may 2010, we signed a 21st declaration.r for the welfare of the committees of both countries. the two governments works to get it -- worked together and meets regularly. it insures they say, specific
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action facilitate the movement of people in a safe, efficient manner. week hereplace last in washington with important outcomes and agreements. mexico and inween a states is one of the busiest in the world, if not the busiest, with 43 points of entry and 32 international beaches. $1.30 billion is traded every day and 300,000 across the state on a daily basis. however, no new bridges were built in more than a decade. we therefore open three new borders in 2010. in the coming months, the first
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new railway crossing will start operations. the growth has just target and has begun operations. it is a huge set. we have succeeded in making them work. there are only two base specific actions among many. the nature of the border, and the goodwill of government on both levels, and on both sides of the border, creating interactions that keep us moving forward. north america is reaching critical mass and should remain a region of opportunity. bilateral trade and investment
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within the region have grown exponentially. part of the expectations of some of us who were at the tables 20 years ago, in 2012 alone, mexico-u.s. trade reached $494 billion. more than $1.3 billion today. almost $1 million per minute. mexico is the third largest u.s. trading partner. we are a special partner. -- one, the mexican market the u.s. economy in 2012. in mexico, $273 billion. this is more than the $210 billion of combined u.s. exports or of the country. excluding canada. this is more than u.s. exports to japan and china combined.
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france,xports to germany, and the data kingdom, $175 billion. furthermore, mexico imports from the u.s. maintain and create jobs in the economy. the u.s. economy says each of the additional billion exports more than six to 2 million jobs. $18 billion in [indiscernible] create 107,000 new u.s. jobs. jobs relied on trade with mexico. fromtate's benefits exports to mexico, mexico was the main destination for exports come out soon -- arizona, and was the destination for exports from 30 states and was ranked.
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compiled by data the office of united states trade, services in mexico by u.s.-owned athletes were $34.40 billion. that was 2010. $4.80 billion in that same year. above all, mexico and the united states compete together in the economy. for a production and supply chains in north america are deeply integrated. 40%.ated at around as a reference, it is about 25% for canadian exports, a country with which the u.s. is very much integrated. u.s., four% for china.
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american consumer buys a the value comes from u.s. parts and components. any othersurpassed by country. the quality is here to be underlined. about theet me talk most important element of this equation. mexicans and the united states have always made great contributions to the economy and the communities they are leaving. is work ethic they display broadly recognized by the private sector. many are also entrepreneurs. createve continued to jobs in the u.s.. mexicans make significant contributions to the u.s. economy.
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first-generation mexicans contributed about 4.1% of the united states gdp in 2007. following the contribution of mexicans to gdp, up 3.8% in 2009. arever, when mexicans added, the contribution is closer -- the gdp is closer to 8%. mexicans also make local economies grow faster. most mexicans live in california, 37%. 4.3 million. in texas, 21%. 2.5 million. that is above the national average. according to the mexican institute, the cities with more mexican immigrants are l.a., 50%. dallas, 5%. such a 10,000.
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the economy is in these cities grew faster than the national average. the government of mexico, recognizes these. we continue to do so. -- their efforts to reach their efforts to achieve greatness. to achieveforts greatness. mexicans in the united states need to be on a positive dynamics now in place. our partnership has proven to be a strong one, a positive one that impacts our society. a rare opportunity stands before us. if we seize them together, we will continue to thrive together.
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questions of comprehensive immigration reform offers new possibilities. we have been closely and respectfully part of this debate. whenever crosspieces are needed, to make sure to increase the opportunities of our national spirit on both sides of the border, regardless of the outcome of the process. president barack obama will visit our country. this is a fantastic opportunity to relaunch the relationship and will set the tone for the coming four years. it will also prove crucial to harness the deep energy of our partnership moving forward in the decades to come. sharednfident the goodwill, commitment, and transition will lead us there. thank you very much.
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. look forward to our comments thank you very much. [applause] >> thanks, ambassador. you set the table for a terrific discussion here this afternoon. coming out to get perspective from the u.s. side, particularly on immigration, is one of our great experts on immigration in this country. who has beenne thinking about immigration issues since the carter and administration, who joined the clinton administration, served for seven years, as commissioner of the service. since then, she has been at the migration policy institute and has continued to lead the discussion in a progressive direction on immigration issues.
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it is fair to say, doris, in the time you have focused on this, it has been a roller coaster. we have had our down and up moments. this may be one of the better moments we can remember when it comes to a thoughtful rethinking of america's immigration policies, which is so key to our relationship with mexico. please join me in welcoming to the podium and fascinating speaker on immigration, doris meissner. [applause] >> thank you. good morning. moment in history. will continue to be for the next weeks and months. talk from the u.s. perspective about an element of the big picture that the
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ambassador has painted. mexico border,s.- and the relationship. very much from the standpoint of what is taking place today, a route that we have travelled over many years and why that is relevant to what is going on now. and will hopefully be going on legislatively in the coming weeks, as i said. the southwest border with mexico today that its origins in the early 1990's. with thegins, about issue of the southwest border and border enforcement having come to become a national issue, as compared to the local issue it had been. decades, prior.
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it became a national issue because of a couple of things. largely was projected on to the national scene by the governor pete wilson running for reelection in california. and championing proposition 187. having passed, and that campaign for governor, having rested heavily on arguments that the borders are out of control. , and what the federal government was abdicating its responsibility, to deal with border enforcement and deal with that across the southwest border, became a louder and louder call. it was accompanied by lawsuits in which the state of arizona and others sued the federal government for neglect. those were basically political assets. they did not have merit.
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they were dismissed by the court. there were very good examples of very strong political statements and feelings that were out there. the clinton the administration took them seriously. the clinton administration took up the issue of border enforcement as part of its broader anti-crime law enforcement. that efforts were part of democratic thinking and action at the time. of borderup the issue enforcement in a role that has become a tint to it -- a continuous stream since research. the budgets that went into building the border and building the southwest border capability started in 1994. , i think when you look back at the record, the official start.
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taking border enforcement seriously. intoutting a border effort place that has become, since, a bipartisan support it issue. the question of putting them into the border has been a continuous stream since 1994. requests and appropriations, when republicans and democrats led the white house and both republicans and democrats led either in the senate or house overall. this is an unbroken chain and continues to go. we see it in day to day. we will see when a bill is announced tomorrow or whenever, having continuing emphasis on border security and on spending on border security. weh the initial budget, worked on the border in ways
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that really try to put into place six basic principles for how it is a border enforcement ought to be done. there were changes from the way things had been done prior and what the thinking had been prior to that time. thell dwell a little bit on ones that have to do with mexico because of what it is we are talking about today. the first principle was, at that practiced, deterrence prevention. the enforcement was the enforcement that prado -- provoked entry in the first place. it meant resources up as close to the border as possible, rather than waiting for people to answer -- enter and then chasing them around. close to the border prevention of entry.
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the second principle has to do with concentrating resources. than spring plan resources evenly, like in the past, the idea was to look at quarters and concentrate resources there in order to gain control in the areas that were the most heavily traveled. ,thers were south of san diego the tucson corridor, and then .outh texas that is where the researchers went. that continues to be the areas that get the most research attention. there have been so many researchers since in these 20 years, that there is a tremendous investment of resources all across the border. the third had to do with the proper mix. it was the proper mix of people, technology, and infrastructure
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changes. that also was a big change. all of the money had gone into border patrol in the past year the new effort was to try to get a much more effective combination of researchers spirit that continues today. i predict that when the new bill comes out, there will be all kinds of focus on drones and more modern technology, etc.. that combination has been a very important change, as well. they all have to do with efforts made on the u.s. side, principles used that involved mexico in varying degrees. the fourth one of those principles had to do with the engagement with stakeholders, in communities as well as the mexican government. and cooperation and increased
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cooperation coronation with mexico. oft idea led to all kinds community-based mechanisms, advisory committees, stakeholders with the border patrol. it also had to do with systematic operation, law enforcement agency to law enforcement agency, between the as. border patrol, as well others on the ground, and mexico. there have been ups and downs over the years. efforts at professional coronation, law enforcement agencies, perfectionism -- professionalism, and building information inng order to solve problems on the ground as close to where they happened as possible, rather than having things best --
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escalate and become national and diplomatic issues, was a major part of the border buildup effort. the border a part of buildup effort to help mexico build its network in the united states so that mexico was in a much stronger position to provide protection and information and intermediaries in the country for mexican nationals who were in the country that has been a sustained effort that has also been very successful and was part of the overall border enforcement. outlook that we brought to the problem. the fifth principle had to do with borders that work. porter's that work were the idea that the borders were they're both to prevent illegal entry, but also to facilitate legal entry of people and goods. the borders were an important part of both countries
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prosperity and well-being and that we needed to let them be very more effective and more functional. we created the 20-minute rule. you cannot wait in line for more than 20 minutes to go through a port of entry in a car. lanes, the fast traveler lanes, which involved structural changes on mexico's side of the border, which we had never been able to do with mexico prior to that. they were not willing to do those things. we created the kinds of relationships and efforts that allowed for borders that were -- work to serve the economy and our trade and interests. the final principle had to do with orders safety. the more that the border buildup took place, the more resources that were put in, the more
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dangerous a place it had become. thisdanger has continued phenomenon on the border. it has been a very serious negative aspect of what takes place with border enforcement. mexico did commit to work together on joint accountability for information for those tragedies, and we had never in the past traced back to the families were reconciled on our numbers on what it is that was going on on the border, all of that work became part of the relationship and on the u.s. side, a great deal more was done with emergency trading -- training, water availability, vehicles, and so on and so forth. when we look back from today, there is now at least a 20-year history of efforts to work together with that rigid with mexico on the law enforcement issues -- to work together with
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mexico on law enforcement issues. that really had a lot of successful by product. it had ups and downs. there were times where it was better and times where it has been less successful. it is the current key element in the relationship and a key element of a successful building relationships. of trust between the two countries. part of that was also possible because it happened against the bigger backdrop. it was enacted in 1993. what i have been talking about in 1994, and then there was the big decision our two countries that our acknowledged futures were tied together. , that we needed to have a common future and it needed to be developed more affect --
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effectively. for those of us working on issues on immigration on the part of the arguments for nasa had to do with what implications it would have for innovation and change, changing the immigration relationship. i remember the various numbers in congress i was assigned where making a case for nasa. carefully done. we had assumptions about changing birthrates, giving what we knew was going on at that point. that byable to predict about 2014, there would be a structural change in mexico and that change was really the long term vision that nasa was moving
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toward because it would mean the drivers of innovation from mexico would begin to abate. these things we were doing on withorder that had to do immigration management, etc., also had the high level set of broader changes that would make it possible for our two nations. it is pretty fascinating now, 20 years later, to look back and see that those actually were pretty much on the mark and not only were they pretty much on the mark, but were ahead of schedule. what it is the ambassador has talked about this morning is now andhead of schedule 2013, having begun to really be real as of 2010, 2011. for immigration and illegal immigration between
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the two countries let me move forward and a wide distorted ambassador has told is so important. it is so important because it is par of the convergence. the convergence of factors is about a set of critical changes that are very significantly on the immigration debate. the first major factor is the u.s. recession and the aftermath of the recession. the dramatic drop-off of jobs and job availability in the united states that has been sustaining for illegal immigration. , even if weactor go into a job recovery, most of the future will be the economy,
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not the kind of economy that generates the massive numbers of jobs we have seen during the past 30-40 years. as ambassador has talked about, the change is mexico that are real and lasting and are reducing the factors for illegal immigration. the third factor is the enforcement aspect i have tried to counsel. border enforcement could not have done the job alone, it has become potent. it is important part. these are changes that are here to stay because they are built into the budget and they are built into the post-9/11 capabilities that we have established as part of our overall national security. wheree now a situation
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there has been a historic shift. we and mexico have worked together on the border enforcement issues to the extent possible within what has been a broken immigration system. for the us-mexico relationship to mature further, to go to the next level, this issue of the perversity of migration relationship that we are in is a big stone in the road that needs to be removed. we have got to get a much more rational system in place in order for mexico and the united states to: exist and work together in ways that have incredible potential. it is our responsibility, it is not something that mexico can do, it is not proper for them to
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be in the domestic debate. at the same time, mexico story thomas the story of mexico as it has been told here, as we know it, as we come to understand is an incredible and portend part of the -- important part of the dynamic. it is a story of how the assumption and the reality on the ground have changed. it should give us confidence, it should give the public confidence that immigration reform can safely take place. if it has ads, generous legalization measure in counts on the enforcement in order to actually be viable is actually -- so it can take place.
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the basic underlying differences and changes that bring us to this new illegal immigration from the united states, it is lasting structural changes. that there be a full understanding of the story as part of the immigration debate. it is also incredibly hopeful to be able to say that what is going on in mexico today creates a platform for a very different future for all of us. we hope it is a platform and we see it as a platform where the well-being of people in mexico, canada, and the united states is more similar than different. where we have a feature of borders that are managed both to protect our nations, but also to facilitate between trade and travel.
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and a feature for migration among our nations is a choice, not a necessity. thank you. [applause] >> thank you so much, doors. -- doris. a very exciting week for you as we see what the gang of eight will come up with. we have heard ,rom two direct participants the ambassador and doris messner. one of our most thoughtful analysts. the council of foreign relations. he has written a book on u.s. border security called "the closing of the american border: terrorism, immigration, and security since 9/11." of thethe director council on foreign relations
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task force study on immigration reform cohead by jed bush and my partner thomas matt mcclarty breaking both perspectives. -- breaking both perspectives. he also had andy card and tom daschle on u.s. trade and investment policy abroad. -- only that, he has spent he was an active journalist both here and in canada. it turns out that he spent much of his childhood and his education in canada. --will ring a perspective bring a perspective to this debate. thank you very much, ted. .> thank you my notes and it is great to be here.
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-- thank you, nelson. before we have a chance to go to the questions, we have been involved in this for so long. it has taken more than a decade to forget how consequential this bill could be. in 1965 thomas the u.s. created the architecture of the moderate legalization system. tried tothe congress solve the problem of illegal immigration. this bill is an effort to do both, to rewrite our system for the future and to establish an ongoing basis illegal immigration. it is a monumental undertaking. it is important not to lose sight. one of the comments that focused on security, the u.s. economy, and flexibility in the future.
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one of these things that doris went through in detail, what has made this moment possible is a transformation of the situation along the u.s.-mexico border. was a journalist, i was working for "financial times aose quote and i interviewed key member of the gang of eight. a placeo see him in called snowflake, arizona where he grew up. it was established by mormons. and the 1970s, 1980s, his family on a huge herd of cattle. they would bring them down in the winter and need them -- feed them. most of them on the form came from mexico. ff was candid that they would
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hire whoever came to work. that would work for 5, 6, 7 months and make good money. it was a system that worked well for those individuals. farm.rked well for the there was a happy coincidence of interest. or a variety of reasons, the numbers of people comment and to the u.s. illegally began to spike. the u.s. began the big border buildup. it was hard for people to come back and forth. i cannot easily, and go back home. come easilyd not and go back home. it became a large step population of illegal immigrants. the challenge as i see it is really to re-create through
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formal means that kind of natural economically driven circular migration that has existed for decades. we are going to make this happen, there are three things. i see them developing and this bill. one is about what is going on at the border. we need to know how many people are getting and successfully, how many are we missing? how secure is the border and making it difficult for people to come to you and says to do that. that is going to be necessary to sustain some kind of faith and integrity in the system which did not exist, has not existed for many years. secondly, we are going to need more legal means for people to come. there has been encouraging process on a new program for low skilled workers on a new program for agricultural workers. we want to create a system where the penalties for coming
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are high. there are real options for people to come to the united states. thirdly, we are going to need cooperation with our neighbors. , some ofrly mexico this isn't being pioneers between the united states and canada. , but theye, legally stay up past their visa. how do we know if they have gone home? the canadians are going to share all of their information with the united states thomas when people come and go back to canada, we will know that. quite possible to do the same the mexico, again to ensure integrity of the system going forward. of economy. one of the things i have rarely seen change over the last decade that i've been paying
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close attention is the recognition of how important immigration is to the u.s. economy. we have looked at immigration as a favor we do for other countries. everybody wants to come to united states, sobel was set at -- we will set a certain number of. it is a real recognition it is a competition for talent. immigrants are extremely valuable for our economy. statistics on foreign students in science and engineering programs were two thirds of university students that come from abroad. , all of up companies the things they do out of proportion to their numbers. we publish a report last year . weexican entrepreneurs have seen a move in the debate. if you have a debate on immigration, we saw that even in
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the last congress when nothing got done -- big votes and the house. the secondo seen front on the legal side, some real progress in facilitating legal entry. if you look at the visas, for , it was, before 9/11 far too easy to get a visa and the united states. we do not scrutinize very carefully. after 9/11, it became too difficult. .any people got discouraged we are starting to get to an equilibrium. will set up a system that works and a reasonably prompt fashion for the people who want to come from those we do not want. part of the second term of the bush administration, we portsned the land border of entry. there was a new study last week that a friend of mine worked on
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that he just released. it'll turned around for public release. it showed the value that the union -- u.s. current economy. damn bastard gave some statistics the economic gains finally, i want to briefly talk about flexibility. unfortunate things about the system is we have this incredible rigid system. theress sets the quotas, quotas are fixed. there are some categories that are hard to legislate. they change it once every 20 years. countries like canada or australia or some of the european countries, the systems are more flexible and adaptable to the needs of the economy. californiaon out of
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did a paper for us where he noted that the only flexible part of the u.s. system is the legal part. that risesnly part and falls depending on the economy. we need to crave that kind of flexibility in the legal system. doris is a new leader on this at the wilson center. they recommended a standing commission on labor markets. to create a real research capacity in the u.s. government to look at the needs of our economy for immigrants. it is shocking how little that has done and the u.s. government. we have something called the international trade commission which employs about 200 economists that can answer the same questions. what will the impact on the economy be? you can answer these kinds of questions.
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immigrationn the side. i am very encouraged by that. what we need to create, what i hope this bill will be a big first up is an ongoing a system in creating that allows the united states to manage immigration for the economic and social benefits of americans. to see this as a critical part of our economic future and one that actually works that has integrity. if we do that, we not only help ourselves, will help our neighbors to the south was paid a very big rice for our mismanagement of our system. let me stop there so we can turn to questions. [applause] >> a two-minute break.
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[no audio]
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>> let's move to the discussion part of a recession. let me reiterate something we touched on earlier which is to simon rosenberg for putting this together. it is another hallmark and the continuing work on these issues. i know a lot of it comes from your own brain and energy. and a very capable staff that you have. thank you for doing this. we have just under 30 minutes to have a conversation to engage the members of the audience. let me start with the question and we would turn to the audience's question. we do have the two presidents meeting in less than two weeks, by that point immigration legislation would have been tabled, but not discussed. it will be toward the tail end of what is going to be a
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vibrant discussion in the senate on gun legislation which will begin this week. in of those things will be trained, what do expect the president too big to do in three weeks? i will start with the ambassador. is going to be to in our the opportunities economic states. --create competitiveness [inaudible] >> is it working now? it is going to be the competitiveness of our shared states. --ually, improving
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[inaudible] it will be improving our shared economic state which of course includes a comprehensive approach to immigration, trade, job creation, innovation, which havetechnology oure shared. actually, inred competitive states order to create an opportunity for mexicans and americans. that is exactly what we have done in the last 20 years. and you see the numbers some of the numbers that i just provided, importance of mexico
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for u.s. exports is much more important than citizens on both sides of the border think. it depends on how effectively our economies are. how integrated we are. if an american consumer buys a car or a house or appliances, that was ofufactured in mexico, 40% the product is american. if you do buy a product that was manufactured in china am a it is only four percent. it is because we are combining the best advantages of both sides of the border. approach which is
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precisely the point. we will bull seeing how immigration debate -- we will be seeing how the immigration debate works. we have -- because we have a strong responsibility to our mexican nationals here for opportunities and the opportunity to contribute to america. as america is one of the greatest countries in the world , or cicely because it has embraced -- precisely because it has embraced immigration. >> thank you, ambassador. do you have anything to add on the president's visit, if not we can turn to the audience? >> the ambassador said it really well.
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there are a lot of gains to be realized which we have just began to explore. i would second that. >> let's turn to our audience. a lot of our members know a great deal about mexico. i want to start in the front row. you to speak up with your questions so we can be heard and we will try to repeat it for those on stream. [inaudible] can you give us -- [inaudible] the question for those of you
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who could not hear on the web relates to the transpacific participation which includes you as an canada. whether or not it is starting with the european, the transatlantic discussions and which mexico and canada are not participating could benefit from that participation. >> we have stated that at our economies are so much integrated, it would make a lot of sense to address the partnership together. it is actually, it is very that is only mexican, only canadian, only american. on howery difficult these negotiations will work and the frame will be set. with our american counterparts and that we
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believe that we need to be in these conversations. it is been going on for 11 years now. canada is about to finish their own, so it would make sense to have this. otherwise, we might wind ourselves -- find ourselves without results. not adding value to the shared manufacturing and but additional, burdens. the name of the game is competitiveness. we have to do this together. >> that would be quite a three- dimensional game of chess if we got both russians that include -- both oceans that included the canadians and the mexicans. has been a little
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lackluster on the trade front. the u.s. is in a position of looking to canada and mexico for guidance on how to negotiate with europe. for a long time, the u.s. was the leader in pursuing free- trade opportunities around the world. , the rest immigration of the world is linked. we were a leader on trade and immigration. other countries begin to recognize the value that comes from being big players in those areas. we find ourselves in the positions of looking at a canadian agreement, a mexican agreement with the eu of how we start and how we can build on those. it is definitely room for cooperation. >> other questions? on the second row. right there, you. >> thank you for taking my question. it will be primarily for the
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ambassador. the immigration bill will be presented tomorrow and there is a strong border enforcement opponent. what mexico'ss goal would be an increasing their border enforcement? mexico already cracking down on the southern border side of stopping central americans. demanded that it do more on the american side. are there any legal barriers, any constitutional barriers that would not allow you to stem the flow of illegal immigration to the u.s.? i know there is the freedom of movement within mexico, right? i was wondering what you see your country's role in enforcing security with this new bill. thank you. a the border is of course
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natural, shared responsibility. we have to see what doris was saying. the forecast that was made 20 years ago is here now. in 1960, the fertility rate in was 70 kids per women. today it is 2.2%. in cities like mexico city, it is 1.8%. actually, the supply of mexicans entering the labor force and willing or able to migrate has dramatically shrink. when i was part of the border safety agreement in 2002, it was -- back then
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thomas -- then, we were using an old reference. -- security last year, it was 22,000 headcount. this is not only because the border patrol became much more effective in doing their job, they did. too, the supply from mexico cross the border to migrate into the united states is not there anymore. this is essentially a zero net migration into the u.s.. we have commitment and responsibility to cooperate with the united states, both ways.
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it goes back and forth, of course. --fficking and illegal handling of -- it is behavior with a working together for many, many years. in that sense, it has been very much on the bilateral agenda the last few years and in the future.
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>> finally, the budget print checks and predicts that no more than 20% will be out long enough to be considered backlog. even though 70% of claims are currently at clock. on the other hand, the strategic plan shows 68% this year. even if the va has updated these estimates based on more recent data, it is difficult to understand how all of these projections could change so dramatically in less than 12 weeks. these fluctuating predictions, along with a history of direct -- deteriorating performance makes it difficult to understand the va has the backlog situation under control. as i said, another area for me is the ambiguity of the it
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projects that are becoming the backbone of operations at va medical centers and offices. currently, they have several projects that are vital to providing benefits and services to our nation's veterans. in the present request, the office of oit requested roughly $3.7 billion, 300 susan dollar -- $360 million increase over last year. 250t, oit requested million for the ipo for development activities of the iehr. how much of this money will be spent on new strategies versus the to an initial capabilities in 2014 but mark according to the budget for 2014 allocation,
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development is roughly the $3 million which would be a $70 million in -- decreased from fy oh 12. we are being told there is another $55 million in this budget. the question is am i as this additional funding coming from the va's budget? my question from last year's hearing, i asked about the cost of new scheduling system. theya's response was that planned to have a new patient a lifecycle plan completed by january 2013. as of today, as cost analysis and has yet to be given. i wonder if the livestock will
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analysis -- like stock analysis has been completed. it stands in the way of congress ability to execute oversight to make sure we are working properly and more importantly, meeting milestones. a forcefully, these inconsistencies and lack of transparency is becoming the standard operation at va. it is even more troubling when it is our nation's veterans that stand to lose the most. i thank you, mr. chairman. >> thank you. thank you, mr. chairman. i welcome secretary shinseki and his staff as we all do. i want recounts to my colleagues that i spent a very long time last week talking to secretary ainseki about how one takes $200,000 person agency and get
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it to be responsive on all kinds of different issues, many of which have been mentioned today. actually has done a lot of work on management and training. theescribed how he broke $200,000 down into blocks and blocks within blocks to all be held accountable and evaluating themselves and being evaluated. the reason i say this is because i really do not know of any job which has such a human factor to it in its work. yet, as complexity at the level that the va has. i think you are a superb general
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of that va. i wanted to say that. when we talk about claims and all the rest, you are really working at it. i believe that. does it give veterans benefits comfort? no. .verything in life is process it is either push from above or not. as you and i discussed, general , a number of years ago all of a sudden the va medical he went to aa not good place really good place. ken kaiser., he had been sitting out in their row for years. i knew his position. i did not know until he left the effect he had and which lasted today or be i do not want johnny
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isakson to be mad at me if i say something nice about the president. i am really struck, mr. specificity and directness of the budget increases which the president with the entire rest of the world claiming every miracle that he does not have. what he has done to make your mission more amenable to your leadership. and not without problems, but he has given a vote of confidence and more importantly , i do not usually say things like that adherence. i just wanted to.
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the 10.2% increase is huge. ,ou throw those numbers around we soon forget them. this will not be forgotten. nevertheless, i am very concerned about the persistent problems that been addressed prior to me. the needs of a rapidly growing the veteran communities for the backlog of claims. i am not sure if it is 600,000 and at one point, i heard it was one -- 800,000. there are so many. yes, you are attacking that. you are bringing in mental health, i think you have over 1200 people all over the country and hospitals and screaming and yelling because you're taking some of the best people and well done. is importance of that chairman sanders indicated is
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so incredibly important. mental health care is so much and so recently, powerfully underlined all of this. i think americans in general and within families and even policymakers are capable of seeing those types of things. there is no quick fix for healthcare am a mental health care, claims, or anything else. there is the need for persistent .rive and driving the agenda with the secretary comes to work every day i'm a determined -- every day, determined to make a difference as best as you can. thatdisturbed by the fact in this very promising va joined with the dod, it, and other which is quite vibrant.
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it has been called off. and what pricehy do we pay or what can be done. i would just say to my friends on this committee that we are very, very lucky to serve here. every year i have been in the senate, which some may think is one or two, but it is 28 years, it is a proud service. know, and west virginia, we have so many veterans. everybody does. the work is powerful. i commend you for the work to be done, but i still have questions i want to ask. thank you, mr. chairman. >> thank you. >> mr. chairman, thank you and thank you for calling this hearing on this budget request.
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mr. secretary, it is good to see you again. one of the things i appreciate and i know the other members certainly would also is your wilderness to stop by our offices and talk to us about the issues that are concern to us. that asent to indicate a former department head, i understand the complexities of putting together a budget that meets the priorities of the president of the united states and i also understand the challenges and trying to touch all of the bases. there are many challenges they the va. va -- facing i will not take up time this thernoon and go through issues. there are a couple of things i wanted to mention. first one is one that i appreciate a great deal. as you know, for some period of time, a number of us have been working on a va cemetery in the
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omaha area. i do want to thank you for including that in the fy 14 budget request. about 112,000 veterans and their families who currently do not have a va cemetery within 75 miles. ofid not want the start this hearing to go by without me saying how much i appreciate that. in addition, i also wanted to mention on a more concerning to note, the issue of facilities. as i've mentioned, i have go theugh -- gone through budgets where you are trying to put together the necessary funds and get it passed. that tends tongs slip is the capital improvements. it is the reality of what we
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deal with. we have a real human beings with real human needs that we must find funding for. , i think about the facility and omaha. i do not want it to be just about that facility thomas because i know there are problems all over where we are dealing with 1950's erode buildings. era buildings. there are stories that could be told about that kind of thing all across the country. as we go through that hearing this afternoon, i would like to spend time on facility needs around the country, how you think we are doing in addressing that, because i do believe that it is an important issue, and i recognize it is an issue that i would suspect slips as the budget gets put together.
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with that, i want to thank you for being here. i look forward to your testimony. thank you, mr. chairman. >> thank you, senator. >> i want to thank each and every one for being here today. i have had a chance to work with each one of you closely, and i appreciate that. thank you for being here and the work you do. you have been saddled with a tough job, and you have received some criticism, and some of it has been pretty unfair. you have done a great job considering the conditions you are faced with. i appreciate your leadership and your service to the country. now, i will be the first to tell you i do not agree with everything you have done, and there is plenty to improve on, but we have made great strides under your leadership, working with some complex issues. the cost of war, the men and
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women coming back from iraq and now afghanistan and the injuries, both seen and unseen, that you and your staff have to deal with and everybody on the ground has to deal with. i have been on this committee for six years and have had numerous meetings in montana, and i have found one person that does not like v.a. health care. the rest of them love it. thank you for your work. this is a $152.7 billion budget that invests significantly in our veterans, and we need to make sure we spend it as effectively as possible. that is an important job, and we need to proceed in a way that honors our military folks and their service and one that makes most sense for taxpayers as to go forward. this is an important discussion, whether we're talking about vet centers or of cemeteries or homelessness or education, there
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are plenty of issues to talk about, and how we make this budget work is important. i look forward to the discussion. >> thank you. >> thank you, mr. chairman, and so not to disappoint the senator from west virginia, i not only acknowledge that the budget is a 10% increase, $7 billion more than the senate approved a month ago. so he has taught us. i also point out that unlike a lot of preparations units, with the department of energy, we are talking about mandatory spending. when they come back from overseas, we have a commitment that will drive how much we spend, and we should never shortchange it. we have to make sure we run the department as efficient as it can be and find our savings
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there. i commend the president and the senate and am thankful to the soldiers who fought for us overseas. for my interest, might point is two things -- suicide and the benefit claims backlog. those are big problems that i know you are facing. i acknowledge the compliments that everyone has given you, but those are the priorities we need to focus on if we get the v.a. responsive to those coming back. i yield back the balance of my time. >> thank you very much. >> thank you, mr. chairman, and likewise, i do not have a lengthy statement. it is good to have you here. we appreciate your service, not only to the v.a., but so many ways through your career and the team you have assembled. as you hear the mood of the comments so far, i do know that
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you know it is important that the public understands this is not a partisan issue, this is something that i think both sides are very much committed to helping here in the senate, and also spending a lot of time in the house with the congressmen there. they also are totally dedicated to trying to see if we can figure out how we can solve these very difficult problems, to the suicide issue, the benefits, but also the ongoing, as was said from the senator from west virginia, which can be proud of the system we have. we're doing a lot of things right. we have two v.a. hospitals in arkansas that are excellent. that has taken hard work. we appreciate the efforts there, and i think we have to address these other things, but we have some things we can celebrate. thank you. >> thank you.
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>> i really do not have an opening statement. i want to thank you for doing the hearing. thank you, general shinseki, for all the work you have done, moving forward with the relationship with the travel community up in alaska and the efforts there. we hope to see some good progress. second, you have put resources in this budget, which i will be anxious to hear about disability claims. we had a hearing, and your staff survived the last hearing, and we appreciate that, but there is a lot of effort there to make sure that goes forward. last is the effort you are doing regarding homeless vets. this is one of your top three priorities. in alaska, homelessness issues are severe because of climatic conditions and other things. thank you for being here.
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i look forward to your budget and am anxious to hear your testimony. >> it is now my pleasure to welcome v.a. secretary eric shinseki. thank you, general, for joining us to give us your perspective on the president's 2014 budget and the advance preparations request for the department of veterans affairs. we look forward to hearing your testimony. the secretary is accompanied by other undersecretaries. also have the executive in charge of the office of management and the chief financial officer, and also the acting assistant secretary for information and technology. your remarks will be submitted to the record. please begin, and thanks for
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being with us today. >> distinguished members of the committee, thank you for this opportunity to present the president's budget and 2015 advanced operations requests in the president's v.a. budget. we value your part in support of providing resources needed to assure quality care and services for veterans. let me join you in acknowledging other partners here today, our veterans service organizations whose insights and support make a much better at our mission of caring for veterans, families, and survivors. thank you for accepting my statement for the written record. the 2014 budget and 2015 advance preparations requests demonstrate the president's commitment to our nation's veterans, and i thank the members for your resolute commitment as well to veterans and seek your support on these requests. the latest generation of
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veterans is enrolling at v.a. at a higher rate than previous generations. 62% of those deployed in support of operations in afghanistan and iraq have used at least one of the benefits for service. v.a.'s records limits are expected to grow. our plans and resources must be robust to care for them all. the president's 2014 budget for v.a., $152.7 billion, $66.5 billion in discretionary funding, and $86.1 billion in mandatory funding, an increase of $2.7 billion in discretionary funding, 4.2% above the 2013 level. this is a strong budget, which enables us to continue building momentum for delivering three long-term goals we set for ourselves roughly four years ago increased veterans access to
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virginia benefits and services, eliminate the disability claims backlog in 2015, and end veterans homelessness in 2015. these were bold and ambitious goals then and remain bold and ambitious today. veterans deserve a v.a. that advocates for them and then finds a way to put resources against its words, against those promises. access -- of the roughly 22 million living veterans today, more than 11 million receive at least one benefit of service from v.a. we have achieved this by opening new facilities, renovating others, increasing investments in telehealth, and using every means available, including the social media to connect for veterans to v.a. increasing access is a success. the backlog -- too many veterans wait too long to receive benefits.
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this is unacceptable, and no one wants to turn this situation around more than this secretary, the undersecretaries, or the folks who come to work every day, 52% of whom are veterans themselves. we are resolved to eliminate the claims backlog in 2015 when claims will be processed in less than 125 days at a 98% accuracy level. our efforts mandate investments in people, processes, and technologies. not just technology, people, processes, and technology. in terms of people, more than 2100 claims processors have completed training to improve the quality and productivity of decisions, or are being trained, and new employees now complete more claims than their predecessors. use of disability benefits
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questionnaires, online forms for submitting a medical evidence, that has dropped processing times of medical exams and improved accuracy. there are now three lanes for processing claims, an express lane for those that will predictably take less time, a special operations lane for unusual cases or those requiring special handling, and a core lane where roughly 60% of the claims will go, and that is the remainder. technology is critical in ending the backlog. our paperless processing system will be faster, improve access, drive automation, and reduced variance. 30 regional offices use the system now. homelessness -- the last of the goals is to end veterans homelessness in 2015. since 2009, we've reduced the
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estimated amount of homeless veterans by more than 17%. the latest estimate from 2012, 62,600. there's more work to be done, but we have mobilized a national program that reaches into communities across the country, and prevention of veterans homelessness is our main effort. the first phase to be completed by 2015, as the rest of veterans currently on the street, and at the same time we're building a prevention program to keep others from ending up there. mr. chairman, where committed to the responsible use of resources congress provides. thank you for this opportunity to appear here today, and we look forward to your questions. >> thank you very much. let me begin by addressing an issue that is a serious one that
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every member here has spoken of, and you have acknowledged, and one that is of great concern to this country. my understanding is that the v.a. is now processing more claims than they've ever before, but my understanding is also that according to the most recent monday morning workload report there were nearly 890,000 claims for entitlement to benefits pending, almost 70% of which have been pending longer than the department's goal of 125 days. this number does not take into account other pending work, including award adjustments and appeals. here's my question -- you have and i believe you have established that goal not long after you took her position -- you brought forth a very, very
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ambitious goal, and you said that you wanted to process all claims in 125 days and with 98% accuracy by 2015. is that correct? >> that is correct. >> let me ask you this -- what benchmarks have you set and v.a. must meet to make sure v.a. achieves this? all of us would agree that the task that you have undertaken, going from an unbelievable amount of paper, a system that was virtually wallpaper, to a paperless system is a huge transformation, and the concern here, and others have raised it, is, what reason do we have to believe that you are in fact going to be able to successfully undertake that transformation and meet the goals that you have established? >> thank you for the question.
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i will call on the secretary to add some details. let me just describe the situation as it existed when we arrived. we had been in paper for decades. we continue to get paper today. if you are going to manage a situation, it takes a certain kind of approach and resourcing. we thought that for all long- term benefits to veterans was to end the backlog, so we set the goal of ending the backlog in 2015. we did rough calculations, and the backlog when we arrived was not defined as 125 days, 98% accuracy. if we want to make a bold move and help the veterans, we have to move quickly, so we set ambitious goals. we did our best estimates. we have laid out a plan in this budget that is resourceful, that drives those numbers towards ending the backlog in 2015.
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i think all of you will remember after we established that goal of ending the backlog, we also took on some unfinished business. we had vietnam veterans, my first year here, who were not happy that they have not had their issues addressed. in many cases i was told that we were just waiting for them to pass so we would not have to take care of them. i cannot think of a more demeaning circumstance for a veteran to feel that that is how their v.a. looked upon the situation. and heard the same kinds of things from gulf war veterans, 20 years after the gulf war, and the decisions regarding their health care issues. as all of us can acknowledge, ptsd has been around for as long as combat and had never been acknowledged as associated with combat, verifiable ptsd.
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as we established ourselves at ending the backlog, we took on three pretty significant decisions for the vietnam generation, three new diseases for exposure to agent orange, nine new diseases for gulf war veterans, and for all combat veterans with verifiable ptsd, access so that they can submit their claims. those numbers, added to the paper process we have, was going to grow the inventory and complicate the backlog, and we testified to that when those decisions were made. there were a number of hearings on this, and my prediction was we are going to go up, but at the same time we will put in place an automation system and that would correct all of that and in time we would bring the backlog back down. we're midstride here. we're now fueling the automation
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tool. it is in 30 of the 56 regional offices. we are seeing indications it is having good success, and we contend to field the remaining offices as quickly as possible. we had good learning that came out of automating the new 9/11 g.i. bill automating process, and the learning indicated that there is a tremendous lift that comes once you have the system fielded. we followed that model of fielding incrementally an i.t. program that is robust to handle our claims processing. we're looking to complete this year on 31 december. we're pulling that as far to the left as we can and fielding it as quickly as we can and doing
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it so we did not run the risk of overreach. >> did you want to add anything? >> i would like add to the discussion that the secretary has said, i know we are asked routinely about milestones, so i wanted to give you a few milestones that we have experienced in the claims process, which was built by the same people building the other system. we have tripled our productivity through the spring season as a result of the automated rules engine that went into a long- term solution, a paperless i.t. system. we want to do more than 285,000 claims each month, reducing the days down to 4.5 days on
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average, where we are now today, in the backlog of our 9/11 g.i. bills claims. the veteran will go online, which exists today, file their claim, like their taxes -- apropos to say that today -- it goes directly into vbms, and we completed that whole piece this year in january, without advertising it. we have 500 claims a week going into the system, directly into vbms, and allows us to work them. today we have 3% electronic. we have 14% of our paper that has been converted to electronic since january. i have claims now, electronic claims, that we did not have at
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the beginning of this year, so we're moving along in the process. this week i will have another six offices on the new i.t. system. >> thank you. >> mr. secretary, the v.a. back log reduction plans shows in order to eliminate it by 2015, v.a. will need to decide 1.2 million claims this year, 1.6 million next year, and 1.9 million claims in 2015. v.a. is saying it will decide 335,000 fewer claims in 2013 and 2014. can the v.a. reach 2 million claims in 2015? that would be a 92% increase in productivity over the 2012 level.
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>> senator, i do not know your numbers, but i would be happy to take your numbers and come back to you. >> i am pulling them right out of the budget reduction plan, which was submitted in january. i got it on january 25. the math would work out to eliminate the backlog by 2015, v.a. eight would need to decide 1.2 million claims this year, 1.6 million claims next year, and 1.9 million claims in 2015. now, in the projections under the budget submission from the president, that says that over the next two years you will decide 335,000 less claims than what the backlog reduction plan said.
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i am trying to figure out if 2015 is -- you are certain on that, that means you have to process over 2 million claims in 2015. is that how you look at it? >> senator, i would love to sit and talk with you. those numbers are different from me from the ones we sent across. i am happy to do that with you. >> in the budget submission, you say you will decide 135,000 fewer claims in 2013 and 2014, right? >> it is slightly different than the plan you received in january. it was based on assumptions that were made last fall, and there have been differences in what we have seen in terms of actuals that have been submitted. we have seen -- not a significant -- we have seen a drop in the number of claims submitted to us of late, so we have adjusted the budget based on those issues.
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>> currently nearly 70% of the claims are backlogged, waiting for more a decision for more than 125 days. the plan you submitted less than three months ago projected backlog would be reduced to 68% in 2013 and less in 2014. you now expect no more than 40% of the plan to be backlogged during either of these two years. in revising these projections, what metrics did you look at and what did they show you? >> i looked at the actual submissions of receipts of claims that we have received from the veterans of the last five months, and each month they have been lower than our expected volume. >> so the math works out to where you would have been only a 40% backlog situation in five months? >> no, senator, it does not, and i did not think you would throw me out of here if i said that
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what happened. that is not where we are. we are about 69% of our claims that are older than 125 days. we're working every day to drive that number up. we are focusing on the people, process, and technology solutions, and as we can, pushing up productivity by our folks. today my raters are higher in productivity. >> last year you testified -- m. secretary, you testified during 2013 the backlog would be reduced from 60% to 40%, and that would demonstrate we are on the right path. at the time, did you envision the backlog would stay above 65% for the first half of the fiscal year, or it would be 70% in april? >> we have some apg guidance that we communicate to our federal government partners.
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they are usual as operational in nature. when we see a change or difference, as the secretary has pointed out in terms of the workload we saw increased claims for agent orange, the increased claims associated with ptsd, we noted that we would probably not be able to meet that 40% guidance, but the thought was you leave your stretch goal out there so you keep trying to work hard to get to it. >> a question -- is the strategic plan you sent to congress aspirational? >> senator, i grew up as a strategic planner, and i know every plan i filled out for the air force was a plan, and plans are always in contact -- they change and they adjust for reality and actuals. we have and will continue to
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improve upon the plan -- >> was it developed to be aspirational or to be an accurate blueprint? did the v.a. perceive the timeline would move -- >> in all planning, there is an aspect of aspiration at the beginning, and then it is with assumptions and the availability of resources, then is adjusted for what we think is achievable. a long-term plan like this one, with as much dynamics as are involved, we make assumptions as to the flow of veterans out of uniform to the v.a. will follow a pattern that we have provided by the department of defense. if that changes, we will have to look and see if we can accommodate that change, and if not, then we will have to say we have a requirement for resources. >> thank you very much, and i
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look forward to sitting down with you to look at the matrix that brought about such a change in three months, and let me just say, mr. secretary, i was not addressing the increased number of claims coming in the door, i was addressing the number of claims that are actually processed and determined, and that does not seem to be getting better. >> thank you. >> thank you, mr. chairman. i will try to ask two questions in too short a period of time. it's homelessness on the one hand, suicides on the other. how do you pick the tragedy, the
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worst tragedy? up to 22 suicides a day. you are making an enormous role in mental health, the experts and the support staff. it will take time to get that into the system and trained, too. how do you look at the general population, starting with ptsd, and as it gets into the mental health and terrifies themselves and raises red flags -- how do you take somebody who is on a suicide watch list or something of that sort -- how do you go to work with that person? how do you try to break through? >> senator, the issue here is no one should have to wait for mental health care, and we have resourced our veterans' health administration by nearly 57%, an
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increase from 2009, to the 2014 budget. we believe this is where we have to put our emphasis. regarding the suicide number you cited, 22, four years ago were not receiving suicide information, veterans suicide information, from the states, so we wrote, and the states have been responsive. now we have that information flowing into the cdc, of which we have this late december, 22. four years ago we did an estimate. the number was at about 18. while this looks like a growth in the last four years, it is really a better number based on data we have received. 18 was a fair call, but we have better information with 22, and we can set about doing things that we could only speculate at four years ago. increase in the number of mental health budget that allows us to do things like increase staffing
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so we find that we need additional resources. the doctor will provide an update of where we are with regard to hiring an additional metal health, and i will come back and close out on suicides. but before he does that, can i ask my second question? >> certainly. >> it is easier, i suppose. i remember a number of years ago the excitement that was felt generally when dod and the veterans administration were planning to work together. i went to a number of joint facilities, and everything was full of optimism. and now all of a sudden evidently, unless i am wrong, there has been a pullback from
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that, electronic records, all kinds of veterans flow from this cooperation, there has been a pullback by that by dod. i'm curious about that. >> we are both still committed to a seamless transition of service members into v.a. that has not changed. we're also committed to the electronic health records that we share in common, and in the language we've come to use over the past four years the concept, it is a single joint common integrated electronic health record, open in architecture, non-proprietary in design, and all those terms, the code to keep us focused on what we want, in an electronic health records, when we share together and one that will be as good five years from now as it is on the day we
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first invested in and purchase it, as opposed to being faced over and over again with an electronics health record. we have to refinance years down the road. this is the concept of we have committed ourselves to, and i would say and that my sense is we have not backed away from that, although secretary hegel, who has just arrived, is in the midst of getting into this issue, and i agree that he ought to have time to do that. >> you do not know of any back way? >> i do not know many. >> i am happy to hear that. i apologize for asking two questions. my time has run out. i got to play by the rules.
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>> thank you, mr. chairman. mr. secretary, in the fiscal year from 2014 budget request, i note there is funding for just one across the entire country, a major medical facility. that is $150 million for a mental health facility in seattle. not questioning at all whether that is needed or not, but in contrast, the minor construction request is for $750 million, substantially more. that is an increase of 17.8% from the 2013 level. does the v.a. have an estimate of the amount of minor construction funding that is needed to keep the aging facilities patched together until they finally make their way up the priority list, which if we do only one a year, that is going to be a long way.
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how much money is going into trying to keep aging facilities operating? is it all that money? >> let me answer the broad question of out of our construction budget. it includes $2.39 billion for major. under construction, non- recurring maintenance, which has a lot to do with facility condition, and major medical leases. minor construction, as you indicated, has increased by 17%, compared to 2013. this is money that gets into the hands of hospital directors quickly and impacts more facilities for the kinds of things you are concerned about and services directly to
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veterans. major medical pieces, our request there is an increase of 12% compared to 2013, and here those leases are intended to provide health care delivery closer to where veterans live, and that is all this business of outpatient clinics and so forth. major construction, the request is for $342 million, and as you indicated, there is one major project here on the list. but it is a stable program, and we have a plan for in-phase funding the execution of a number of large projects. non-recurring maintenance, $709.8 million, remains stable in comparison to 2011 income and we're dealing with safety, facility conditions, and other needs to make sure that at the facilities we do have are safe, secure, and accessible to veterans.
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this is a balance across our programs, and i would offer is a stable overall program with emphasis on minor, major medical leases and assuring that the nonrecurring maintenance is maintained at a stable amount. >> you can see where i'm headed. my concern is you have a host of old buildings out there. certainly it would not be what you would want if you were going to build a facility, because they are probably 50, 60, 70 years old, and i am wondering if we put money into these old facilities, and to me it seems like a waste. has the v.a. studied any possibility of trying to jump- start this program, to try to
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get more new construction versus putting money into all buildings, or are we just where we are? >> i do not describe us as being stuck. if there is another dollar to be had, there is a place to put it in construction. as i say, it is a stable approach to a large footprint. part of our responsibility is to decide what part of that footprint we no longer need, and all last several years reduced the amount of vacant space consolidated and reduced the amount of underutilized space, and both categories, a 26% reduction. we do that as well. there are other pieces of our property that we can dispose of, and we do, through either demolition or look for other
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means to find other uses for what we no longer need. we used to have an enhanced use lease authorization, that expired in december of 2011, and our efforts to have that authorization renewed and extended has succeeded in providing for an enhanced use lease arrangement for homeless requirements only. so we do have that. right now we have a number of projects where we have created homeless housing for veterans, and we have others that are in design, and other work is underway, 5,500 units overall. we do manage those older pieces of property. we have need for some of it, and
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we need a way to efficiently dispose of it. >> thank you, mr. chairman. >> thank you, mr. chairman. i have more questions than we have time, but we will start with the care givers bill of 2010, to establish a pilot so that veterans could get care from providers for mental health in cases where the v.a. does not have capacity. the provision gave the authority to contract out mental health services for veterans in rural areas where providers are at a premium. can you give me any progress on this, and i say that because montana has four mental health centers serving the west, south, central, and the east, and the north, too. none of those are contacted with. just wondering where we are at.
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>> thank you, senator and mr. secretary. we are in the process now of developing 15 contract pilots across the country with community-based federally qualified clinics to pilot the concepts of a contract and the way they do it. if this is successful, we will be doing this across the country. i was not aware of the fact that the montana clinics were not contract -- >> i do not believe they are.
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they are not protected with the v.a. so these 15 pilots, by executive order, where are they? are they up and running so you can assess them, and if not, when? >> all of them are delivering care, a number of them are doing it by contract, and some had difficulties at getting contracts executed, so they are doing it on a fee basis, but the contracts are in process and we expect within a month or two everybody will be operating. >> when will you expect an assessment of their effectiveness, late summer? >> [indiscernible] >> super. i wanted to about health care providers in general, mental health care providers, specifically. we have issues that go along with the partnerships, but we have issues with folks, mental
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health care professionals and health-care professionals in general, being staffed up to snuff. we have had conversations off the grid with you. what kind of strategies does the v.a. use to retain a mental health work force in rural areas, and if it applies to regular folks, too, could you address them both? >> thank you. for clinical psychologists, psychiatric social workers, there's practitioners, and mental health, we have great flexibility in terms of the salary, and our salaries are competitive anywhere around the country. >> who has that flexibility? >> the flexibility lies with the
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individual facilities. there are certain circumstances where they would have to come in, but is unusual, and they have great ranges of salaries they can work with. >> do you need other recruitment tools? >> i think that's the thing that limits us a little bit is the fact that our debt forgiveness stops at $60,000, particularly for medical students and residents. that may be a drop in the bucket, so to speak, and i would like to see if we can raise the limit which we could forgive debt. >> i would love to have recommendations, since you're in the business. i have no idea what nurse practitioners with mental health background would come out of college with or -- as far as that, but i would like to get recommendations at where the cap should be.
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>> we will talk. >> i would just like to put a fine point on that statement. $60,000 is $60,000, not a drop in the bucket, but increasing it will give us flexibility we do not have. >> some of these folks are coming out of college with 200 grand in debt. it would be good -- and we would do research on that. the last thing i will have, what kind of impact does this have -- talking about flexibility on salary -- on existing staff? i did not want to be the devil's advocate, but if you have somebody on staff that is making 75,000 bucks a year and offer somebody new 100,000 bucks, what kind of impact does that have on you? is there some way you can address existing folks?
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>> the short answer is yes and yes.>> the short answer is yes d yes. we are cognizant of the fact that particularly could be a problem, and we have ways we can address that with staff. >> thank you very much. >> thank you. i want to follow up a second on what the senator was talking about on leases. in the budget, the construction account, $6.4 million for the relocation of a facility, 7900 square feet, to a newer facility in the northeastern part of that area, a huge area that has served a lot of veterans. they are now forced to go to the hospital in decatur, georgia, which puts more pressure on the facility. they get to the president and to you, because i know your request has something to do with that.